Instead of staying indoors at home and freezing during this Arctic cold snap, my wife and I decided to get out of the house and brave the cold on Friday afternoon and take in “Darkest Hour” at the local theatre.
I’ve been wanting to see “Darkest Hour” ever since the trailers started running on Facebook and other social media outlets. Not only did the historical-themed movie grab my attention because of the topic and the subject, I wanted to see Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Oldman’s movie roles have ranged from Sid Vicious to a terrorist in “Air Force One”, to Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies to “The Fifth Element” and yes, “Lost in Space”, just to name a few.
Oldman is a master of his craft but I have to admit I couldn’t quite picture Oldman as Churchill until I saw the previews. I was surprised at the scenes and it further intrigued me to see “Darkest Hour” when it arrived in theatres.
“Darkest Hour” does not disappoint.
The movie deals with Churchill being swept into leadership as prime minister, replacing Neville Chamberlin and facing one of the greatest challenges of the 20th Century; take a stand, fight the Nazis and keep them from invading the British Isles or roll over, surrender and become the next annexed country of the Third Reich.
I have to admit, I shed many tears during this movie. The choices and decisions faced by Churchill such as the sacrificing of 4000 men on the beaches near Calais, organize a civilian naval armada to rescue almost 340,000 aboard 861 civilian vessels, the cutting reality of politics watching Chamberlin and Viscount Halifax work their backstabbing tactics against Churchill and Churchill’s near breakdown near the end of the movie before delivering the “truth” to Parliament in his rousing, rallying cry speech thanks to the people of the UK and their insight and desire to fight.
Walking out of the theatre, I thought to myself, that this movie is reminiscent of what we are facing in Appalachia. It’s not World War II, it’s not Dunkirk but yes, it hits home and it made me ask questions about whether enough is really being done to save Appalachia and its people before it falls further into the clutches of an entirely different Third Reich.
Covering some of the local government in the area and watching our current slate of representatives in local, state and national office, we have a lot of representatives like Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax presiding over some of the worst times in Appalachia. They are content to let things collapse all over without fighting and further solidify Appalachia’s place as a third world region.
We have people who are still fighters and don’t want to go down fighting but you have so many others that have quit fighting and willing to accept the status quo and do nothing different. Appalachia’s leaders are not taking chances, not willing to push back when push comes to shove. We’re at the point of Schwartz in “A Christmas Story”, we’ve been “triple dog dared” to do something and instead of standing up to Flick, we’re willing to go ahead, give in and stick the old tongue to the cold pole and accepting fate.
I can’t think of one person in office in some parts of Appalachia with one ounce of the “bulldog tenacity” that Winston Churchill demonstrated in real life or what Oldman demonstrated as Churchill in the movie to save Appalachia before it further slips into oblivion. One exception of having that “bulldog tenacity” is the people of Pikeville, KY.
The people in Pikeville had the vision to see ahead, anticipating the demise of the cash crop; coal, and was planning for the future before the collapse of the coal industry.
Now, Pikeville is a city that is clearly focused on medicine, higher education, high tech and now manufacturing with the recent naming of EnerBlu coming to Pikeville.
The future certainly looks much brighter in a region that continues as a whole, to go darker.
Appalachia needs a Churchill right now.
A bulldog, a fighter and someone or a group of Churchills, willing to listen to the people of the region instead of creating their own agenda.
Appalachia is in and has been in our “Darkest Hour” for quite some time. The losses are outweighing the victories.